Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to give incentives and compensate commercial farms that would observe bio safety protocols in their farms in a bid to prevent further spread of African Swine Fever (ASF).
Hontiveros said DA Secretary William Dar had confirmed to her that they would be proposing to other cabinet members the expansion of insurance coverage under the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) to include commercial farmers and coverage for five million pigs.
She also pushed for free insurance coverage over the next two years for farms inside ASF-free areas and potential green zone areas that could level up compliance with infection control regulations.
These proposals, according to her, would not only provide relief to commercial farmers, but also be a key instrument for ASF recovery.
“Win-win solution ito. The insurance subsidy will not only be a relief measure for hog raisers but also be an instrument of recovery. Mapipigilan din ang pagkalat ng ASF na pinakamalaking obstacle sa supply problem na nagpapataas ng presyo ng karneng baboy (This will prevent the spread of ASF that is proving to be a major obstacle in the supply and increased purchase cost of pork). This will also serve as a common ground that can start to bring goodwill back between the DA and the private sector,” she said.
At present, commercial hog raisers are not included under the insurance program of PCIC, and have not received support from the government commensurate to their huge losses.
With limited resources, according to Hontiveros, the commercial farms are having a hard time following safety protocols and installing systems for infection control exacerbating the pork supply problem.
She adds that “the lack of insurance cover also undermines the objective of early detection because hog raisers who fear their pigs might be culled have a tendency to, instead, dispose of them cheaply and fast to buyers.”
“Sa ibang mga bansa na may ASF, gaya ng Vietnam, mas kaya ng malalaking producers ang pag-monitor at pagsunod sa biosafety protocols. Dito sa Pilipinas, karamihan ay maliliit na backyard farmers, pero hindi sapat ang tulong na binibigay ng gobyerno, (In other countries with ASF, like Vietnam, big producers could monitor and follow bio-safety protocols Here in the Philippines, many are backyard farmers and government help is not enough),” the senator noted
Hontiveros expressed hopes that immediate action would be taken such as allocating additional funds to PCIC, and including insurance payout to cover as much of the loss as possible for farms that would repopulate within the green zones in DA’s proposed 2022 budget.